Friday, January 12, 2007

Conversations behind closed doors:

The Jerusalem Post yesterday reports of the conversations held between Ariel Sharon and President Bush before the US invaded Iraq and got rid of the genocidal Baathist regime. Apparently, Sharon was quite aware and knowledgeable about all the aspects of the Iraq's danger to the region, as well as the risk for a mess that would follow a badly-conceived and badly- executed post-war policy:

Former prime minister Ariel Sharon told President George W. Bush ahead of the US-led invasion of Iraq of the dangers Saddam Hussein posed for the region, but also warned him that the Arab world would not be receptive to democracy.... the US and Israel held close consultations during the run-up to the war, but ... Sharon was very careful not to advocate any particular American action.

According to Sharon, Saddam was an acute threat, and he supported his analysis by pointing to the Iraqi dictator's conduct during the Iran-Iraq War; his launching of 39 Scud missiles at Israel, and more than 40 at Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain, during the first Gulf War; his material and logistical support for terrorists; and his track record of intimidating his neighbors.
In addition, Ayalon said the Saddam threat factor was driven home by the intelligence information that "we all shared" that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, "especially in the chemical area."

Another element involved in these analyses was the fact that despite Israel's bombing of Iraq's Osirak nuclear plant in 1981, Iraq still had the blueprints and technological know-how to create nuclear weapons, "and it was just the matter of finding the right moment to put their program back on track in a fast manner."

Regarding democratization of the region, Ayalon said Sharon told Bush it would take a long time, and "the president understood that this was something that would not be done overnight.
"Based on his intimate knowledge of the Arab world, Sharon was skeptical of the idea that Arab societies were ready to receive democratic culture," Ayalon said

Today, Andrew Sullivan, on his Daily Dish, has this to say about his pre-war impressions, which still resonate loudly even at the present juncture:

A few people - James Fallows, Joe Klein, Brent Scowcroft, for example - opposed the war for sane reasons. They deserve kudos as much as I deserve criticism for not listening to them closely enough. But I went to the pre-war anti-war marches as an observer. I did not hear arguments about the difficulties of managing a sectarian society, nor questions about troop levels, nor worries about the impact of the war on Iran's status in the region. I heard and saw often reflexive hostility to American power, partisan hatred of Bush, and blindness toward Saddam's atrocities. I remember what I saw. And I feel as estranged from that reflexive position today as I did then.


While Israel, in spite of its misgivings, was rooting for American success in mellowing the dark forces of totalitarianism, fundamentalism and culture of violence in the region, the Antiwar Left was rooting for the very opposite. There is a dark sort of glee to be observed in the antiwar crowds towards the excrutiating difficulties in Iraq, expressed in the media and the blogosphere, that's very disturbing. The carnage that groups of Muslims inflict on each other is viewed with something closely resembling satisfaction. The greater the havoc, the happier they seem to be. Having, as they believe, been proven right in opposing this war.

There is a great disconnect here, between what should be a Leftist mindset in favour of promoting better life for more people around the world and what too many voices on the far left are trying to impose: isolationism, mutually indifferent hermetic cultures, opposition to humanitarian interventions.

It reminds me of a line in Jane Austen's novel, Pride and Prejudice, uttered by one of the sillier characters in her canon:

``Oh, well! it is just as he chooses. Nobody wants him to come. Though I shall always say that he used my daughter extremely ill; and if I was her, I would not have put up with it. Well, my comfort is, I am sure Jane will die of a broken heart, and then he will be sorry for what he has done.''

But as Elizabeth could not receive comfort from any such expectation, she made no answer.


A few hours later:

I see I'm not alone in paying attention to the extraordinary spectacle of Pretend Leftist unfettered glee. Mick Hartley has a post about similar sentiments in his neck of the woods:

And on it goes. These are not minority views, of course, but the near-universal consensus of the educated opinion-formers of our times. It’s hardly even controversial these days to talk of the Prime Minister in this way. People used to shout “fascist” at Margaret Thatcher but I don’t really ever think their heart was in it. With Mr Blair it’s deadly serious. Imagine the raucous, triumphant, mocking Shia at Saddam Hussein’s execution — minus the beards — and you have a sense of what most of these people feel about the Prime Minister.

Bear with me whilst I repeat this:

Imagine the raucous, triumphant, mocking Shia at Saddam Hussein’s execution — minus the beards — and you have a sense of what most of these people feel about the Prime Minister.

"Plato’s account in The Republic of democracy as mob rule degenerating into tyranny prepares the way for a host of crowd images… [including] medieval crowds volatile at great festivals and fairs; crowds at public executions; peasant revolts… the crowd in the French Revolution; lynch mobs; the mobs of industrial discontent; the list is endless. Each particular crowd elicited its own theoretical response, often in the form of politically loaded historical narrative and these responses are to be seen as cumulative. "


"When the Mobs are Looking for Witches to Burn, Nobody's Safe"

McClelland, J.S. The Crowd and the Mob: From Plato to Canetti (London & Boston: Unwin Hyman, 1989).


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